Columbia County is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S., and the area in and near Augusta, Georgia, is packed with fascinating historical sites that will inspire travelers from near and far. Located along the Savannah River, the area has been inhabited for thousands of years, and in addition to ancient Native American history, you’ll find sites and landmarks from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, plus dramatic geological features like Heggie’s Rock. So pack your bags and get ready to soak in some gorgeous sites and historical landmarks as you travel through Columbia County, Georgia, this fall and beyond.
Stallings Island: Near Augusta, Georgia, you’ll find this historic gem, which is also one of the oldest archaeological sites in the country containing Native American pottery. Stallings Island was home to a culture dating back thousands of years, and the Stallings people created the oldest documented pottery in North America. Take a guided kayak tour to this national landmark and snap photos of the natural beauty and the wildlife.. This island is a national landmark and is protected by the Archaeological Society. You can only view it by watercraft. Please do not trespass.
Augusta Canal Headgates at Savannah Rapids Park: Explore this historic canal on foot, bike, or boat as you take in picture-worthy scenery, wildlife, and plenty of history. The canal is the country’s only industrial power canal still used for its original purpose, and you can take a break from paddling your canoe or peddling your bike to visit the Augusta Canal and Discovery Center to soak in stories about the people who built the canal back in 1845. Savannah Rapids Park is home to the Headgates of the Augusta Canal and offers gorgeous vistas and plenty of outdoor activities for the nature-loving traveler. Savannah Rapids Park is also home to a natural wonder- the fall line. Here, there are rocky rapids, a spillway, and the historic Augusta Canal and National Heritage Area.
Lock Keepers Cottage: During your visit to the Augusta Canal, be sure to check out the Lock Keeper’s Cottage, which is brimming with Southern charm and demonstrates what the lock keeper’s quarters would have looked like back in 1895. The knowledgeable staff can help you make the most of your visit, and pictorial guides will give you a rich history of the cottage and the people who inhabited it.
Columbia County Courthouse: Previously centered in the heart of Columbia County, Appling is the official county seat. The Town of Appling was chartered in 1816 but lost its designation nearly 180 years later in 1995. It is home to the historic Appling Courthouse which is still in use to this day. Built in 1854 on land sold to the county by William Appling, it is the oldest courthouse still in use in the state.
Old Kiokee Church: If you want to explore some of the country’s most historic rural churches, Georgia has plenty to offer. Old Kiokee Church, built in 1808, is the oldest Southern Baptist congregation in the state. Legend has it that “kiokee” was a word used by both the Cherokee and the Creek Indians to refer to the creek in the area. The church is an incredible part of Georgia’s rural history, so call ahead to schedule a tour and get the most out of your visit.
The Laurel and Hardy Museum: Head to Harlem, an easy drive from Augusta, to discover the legacy of Columbia County born-and-raised comedian Oliver Hardy, one half of the legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. The Museum will take you on a journey through the life and times of one of the world’s most beloved comedians, and be sure to save the date for the first Saturday in October for the annual Oliver Hardy Festival in Harlem, which is free and fun for the whole family.
Heggie’s Rock Preserve: If natural history is what you’re after, visit Heggie’s Rock, the county’s most stunning geological feature. This 130-acre rock outcrop rises 70 feet above nearby Benton Branch and Little Kiokee Creek, making for a stunning natural wonder that speaks to the geological history of the region. Be sure to plan ahead as arrangements are required.
There are plenty of great places to stay along the way, so take a look at our site to find the accommodations that will make your trip memorable. There are also amazing restaurants and day trips to keep you occupied as you explore the rich Georgia history of the region and explore one of the country’s most historic (and beautiful!) regions.